Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My Grocery Shopping Methodology

I am a shopping nerd. It goes like this:
1. Plan life around farmer's market.
1a. Make menu on Tuesday night for Wed-Friday
1b. Make menu on Friday night for Saturday-Tuesday.

Obviously, I'm totally lucky to live in an area with two year-round weekly farmers markets! I know you can't all do this. It definitely makes it much easier to focus on local and seasonal eating when there are an abundance of choices all year round.

First, I usually pick out a cookbook or two (or a website if I am testing), and then I plan out which meals I will make for each night of the week - taking into account which are my teaching nights and which nights I'll have more time for cooking projects. I make up a special little list:

Wed., Kale Scramble (from Vegan Brunch, p XX).
and write all the ingredients under it.

I grab my giant, trusty bag (from India, $1!), a big handful of clean reused plastic bags, and head off to the farmers market - list in hand. (you can see my list peeping out there!) On Wednesdays I meet up with some of my vegan pals who I met on the PPK and we have weekly market dates. It's really special and awesome. They are all totally cool, free-wheelin' creative types who don't need to compulsively check their lists at the market - unlike me. I am balancing out the equation folks! Just doin' my job!

Here's a pretty typical haul from the farmers market. I try to get as much as possible from the farmers' market, and I definitely plan my menu around what's available at the market. After I'm done there, I go to the local natural foods store, where I can buy everything else - like beans and that kind of stuff. I almost never end up buying produce from the grocery store... unless I am really jonesing for an out-of-season mango or bell pepper. It does happen.

Being super organized about meal planning and shopping helps me feel like I'm not wasting food. I'm not great at spontaneous meal-creation in the kitchen, and usually my impulse purchase just linger in the cupboards. Also, this system helps me make my way through all my super cool cookbooks and the 1 million recipes out there in the world that I still want to try.

What's your system?


  1. Mine's pretty similar, except this time of year, no farmer's market. I plan meals for two weeks in a row, and then try to buy everything I need for those (except for perishable produce ... which I'll buy closer to when I'm actually cooking).

    But menu planning is key. I love knowing what I'm eating every day!

  2. I keep a list on my phone of recipes/meals I really want to try and ingredients I'm craving or want to use up. Throughout the week I add and modify the list of meals.

    Finally I take one big shopping trip during the weekend and I cross my fingers that my produce will hold up until Thursday. :)

    I'm really looking forward to the Farmer's Markets in the Northeast!

  3. That's kind of awesome that you meet up with PPK friends at the market! I used to see a friend randomly when I was in STL (not vegan, not there anymore anyway) but we never thought to plan it! Doh! That's an easy way to get my butt off the couch and go more often.

  4. I leave post its in recipe books to remind what to make, and then make a shopping list as I go along. Doesn't always work - sometimes I forget just what I was planning and have to construct something out of the random ingredients that I find myself left with.

  5. Anonymous1:24 PM

    I wish I was as organized as you are. I try to plan my meals so that I’m not buying items that will just sit in the fridge and go bad but sometimes things don’t go as planned and the meal I was planning to make gets postponed until I’ve completely forgotten about it. I try to grocery shop on Saturdays and cook all my meals on Sundays. We have a year round farmers market here but there’s not much in season during the winter months, I’m really looking forward to spring! I love that you do a meet up once a week with PPKers at the market, that would make shopping much more fun.

  6. I developed a table in word that I use to fill out and select the recipe I will make each day. It's a way of planning ahead with some freedom to choose during the week. No farmers markets are open yet and grocery quality at store is only O.K. to poor. Let me know how I can upload the table I worked out.

  7. That pic of your produce is so bright and colorful and makes my heart sing. :) I wish we had year-round markets (close-by) over here, how lucky! And look at that variety, mmm.

    I tend to do meal planning for one week at a time with 1 or 2 trips per week (if I run out of spinach mid-week, this vegan is in trouble!). My fridge is happily packed right now. :)


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